Why I’m at Bitly: Featuring VP of Marketing Christine Royston

This post is part of a multi-part series where we chat with members of Bitly’s leadership team.

We asked Christine Royston, VP of Marketing at Bitly, to name someone she’d want as her mentor. 

Her response? Former Cisco CEO John Chambers.

Christine observed his leadership style throughout her six years at Cisco and admires how he led the company through numerous transitions, keeping calm, cool and collected along the way. Hearing these qualities, we couldn’t help but draw comparisons.

Christine embodies the kind of thoughtful and focused leadership style she admires in John. Combining these qualities with her professional experience, she has successfully built and led marketing teams in some of the largest and most recognized tech companies in the world, including Cisco, Salesforce and DropBox.

“I’ve always really enjoyed building teams. I like all of the pieces to it—creating processes, defining what a new team should focus on and establishing how to collaborate effectively with the rest of the company.”

Her uncanny ability to lead effectively in high stakes situations while keeping calm under pressure is one of the many reasons we asked Christine to do this interview. Enjoy!

Why did you choose to come to Bitly?

I wanted to work with great people who had experience building great companies. It seemed like a really good group of people—the type I wouldn’t mind working with for many hours every day.

And then there was the opportunity to run the entire marketing function for a well-established brand with a product that people love and use every day. That mix of growth potential and brand recognition is rare and I didn’t know when an opportunity like it would come up again.

Were there any actions you wanted to take starting Day 1?

Hire an amazing team and establish a “test and learn” culture.

What advice do you have for women starting out in tech? 

Build your network. I’ve found most of my jobs via people I know: former colleagues, classmates, managers or friends. Most people want to help and they know how hard it can be to find that first job.

If you were magically given 3 more hours a day, what would you do with them?

More of the basics like sleeping and exercising… and learn another language (or improve upon one I’ve already studied!).

In marketing, where does the magic lie?

Marketing fascinates me because it’s a blend of two seemingly opposite things: art and science. You have the creative side—the overall message you want to send and how you send it—and you have the science side—understanding the sales funnel, the conversion rates, and how your team’s actions drive revenue.

I think the magic in marketing happens when we strike the perfect balance between the two. It’s a team effort. Not every person needs to have the balance but as a whole we do.

Can you share a few of your top leadership principles?

Transparency is a big one. I want my team to feel like they’re a part of the process of building our marketing function, even if they’re not sitting in the same meetings as me. Keeping an open line of communication helps to not only inform people of what’s going on but also to empower them to make smart decisions.

I also try to be a guiding light for my team in terms of our metrics and objectives. It’s too easy for people to get spread thin in fast-moving companies. I want my team to feel they can make decisions without having to ladder them up to me.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

You own your own career. You have to make decisions that get you to where you want to go. Don’t sit around and wait for people to tell you what to do, give you guidance, or define your career path. Define it for yourself and always think ahead.

What are you passionate about and how do you stay connected to that passion?

I’m really passionate about global cultures and understanding how people around the world think and make decisions. Traveling and reading help me keep my mind open and put myself in other people’s shoes.

What characteristics do you most admire in others?

Persistence, creativity and curiosity

How do you approach solving big problems?

I like to first think of the end state. Where is it I’m trying to arrive? Do I want to drive more revenue? Build a better relationship? Enter a new market?

Then I break the problem down into smaller pieces and think of those pieces as parts of a project plan. I think about what I need to make a decision, which stakeholders I need to include, and who I need to enlist to help me since a big problem usually involves a team.

How do you start your day?

Coffee. It gives me time to ease into my day and clear the fog.

This or That

Saturday or Sunday? Oh, Saturday. For sure.
Dessert or main? Dessert
Plane or road trip? Plane
Hotel or Airbnb? Depends on where I’m going!

Thanks for reading this Why I’m at Bitly post! Next week, we’ll speak with Adam Bambrough, VP of Customer Success. If you missed it, take a peek at last week’s post featuring VP of Product Maria Thomas.

Tiffany Fowell @Bitly